My husband I went for our physical the other day. The appointments were scheduled 30 minutes apart with the same doctor. The nurse offered to let us come in together. We agreed. I had my physical first and then he had his. During my physical and after reviewing my blood work and other medical conditions, my primary doctor said he wanted to do a memory test on me. I told him it wasn’t necessary because I have them regularly with my neurologist. He said he wanted to do one anyway. Oh boy. Memory tests create anxiety for me, but how could I say no. The doctor is just doing his job, checking someone who has a diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimers.
The doctor proceeded to ask me some basic questions like the date, and who was President. I answered those with ease. Then he asked me to spell a word, and then spell another one backwards. I couldn’t spell it backwards or the other two words he gave me after that. Frustrated, my husband responded “Honey, it’s not that hard just picture it in your mind and read it backwards”, and then he proceeded to answer for me. Great job, Kim!
The doctor asked me to remember three words and read them off and said we would revisit them in a few minutes. A few minutes later after talking about something else, he asked me what the three words were. I responded with a blank stare, sweating profusely. I could not remember the words, but my husband stepped in, frustrated, and answered them for me. He then coached me and said I have to do word association to remember them. Hmm, I hardly think that is my only issue.
Then my doctor showed me a diagram, and asked me to draw it. I hate this part of the test when they give it to me. I attempted it and was not successful. I tried two more times unsuccessfully. He then gave me another diagram which I was unable to draw. My memory was stellar that day. My husband laughingly said “Honey, why can’t you draw that, it’s not that hard”.
The doctor then gave my husband his physical. He did not ask him to take the memory test and I asked the doctor why. He replied “because your husband already passed yours”. I then got frustrated and told him these memory tests are stupid and I don’t understand why they use those things to test for memory. He said each different type of question tests a different part of your memory. Great….so many parts of my memory suck.
On the way home, I mentioned to my husband that when my Mom had Alzheimer’s I went in with her to her appointments but that I let my Mom answer the questions and didn’t say anything to her and perhaps in the future he should try that. He said he realized he overstepped his bounds but he was just shocked that I could not remember or perform such simple tasks.
My husband is a great guy and we get along incredibly well. He is my rock and would do anything for me. Based on first hand experience with my Mom, I know how hard it is to see your loved one decline, especially someone as young as me, who sometimes shows no signs of cognitive issues. I still have more good days than bad days. My husband has been attending my Alzheimer’s Support Group meetings with me, but has not attended any Caregiver meetings yet on his own. He is reluctant and I think in denial. We have been talking a lot about him taking over household responsibilities, my end of life wishes, etc. It’s a lot for a husband who loves his wife to face. We will get through this. Alzheimer’s may have knocked me on the mat, but I hear the “Theme from Rocky” song playing in my head and I am getting back up on my feet swinging for my opponent (Alzheimer’s) just like Rocky Balboa did. I may be down but I’m certainly not out. Yo, Adrian.
For those of you who are caregivers there are some great resources out there including, but not limited to: